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No polish can make sterling; and that vice,
Though well perfumed and elegantly dress'd,
Like an unburied carcass trick'd with flowers,
Is but a garnish'd nuisance, fitter far
For cleanly riddance than for fair attire.
So life glides smoothly and by stealth away,
More golden than that age of fabled gold
Renown'd in ancient song; not vex'd with care
Or stain'd with guilt, beneficent, approved
Of God and man, and peaceful in its end.
So glide my life away! and so at last,
My share of duties decently fulfill'd,
May some disease, not tardy to perform
Its destined office, yet with gentle stroke,
Dismiss me weary to a safe retreat,
Beneath the turf that I have often trod.
It shall not grieve me, then, that once, when calPd
To dress a Sofa with the flowers of verse,
I play'd awhile, obedient to the fair,
With that light task; but soon, to please her more,
Whom flowers alone I knew would little please,
Let fall the unfinish'd wreath, and roved for fruit;
Roved far, and gather'd much: some harsh, 'tis
If he regard not, though divine the theme.
AN EPISTLE TO JOSEPH HILL, ESQ.
Dear Joseph—five and twenty years ago—
Whence comes it then, that in the wane of life, Though nothing have occurr'd to kindle strife, We find the friends we fancied we had won, Though numerous once, reduced to few or none? Can gold grow worthless that has stood the touch? No; gold they seem'd, but they were never such.
Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe, Swinging the parlour door upon its hinge, Dreading a negative, and overawed Lest he should trespass, begg'd to go abroad. Go, fellow !—whither ?—turning short about—
Nay—stay at home—you're always going out.
I knew the man, and knew his nature mild,
But not to moralize too much, and strain
Oh, happy Britain! we have not to fear Such hard and arbitrary measure here; Else, could a law like that which I relate Once have the sanction of our triple state, Some few, that I have known in days of old, Would run most dreadful risk of catching cold; While you, my friend, whatever wind should blow, Might traverse England safely to and fro, An honest man, close-button'd to the chin, Broad-cloth without, and a warm heart within.